MAC: Mines and Communities

India - Relaxation in green norms "to boost Coal India output"

Published by MAC on 2013-01-07
Source: Business Standard, Energy Business Review (2013-01-03)

In its rush for new coal, the Indian government will exempt major expansions of all existing mines from the requirement of a public hearing.

However, the retrograde step is expected to yield only a 45 million tonnes rise in output per year - while imports are expected to rise by over 200% during the next four years.

Relaxation in green norms to boost CIL output by 45 mt

Environment ministry had exempted some mining projects from public hearings

Sudheer Pal Singh

Business Standard

3 January 2013

New Delhi - The environment ministry's latest relaxation of green norms for expansion of projects in the mining sector is set to lead to an annual rise of 45 million tonnes (mt) in Coal India Ltd's (CIL) production.

In a notification issued last month, the ministry had exempted all mining projects seeking capacity expansion of up to 25 per cent from local public hearings. The move is aimed at reducing delays in green clearances.

"The exemption will benefit us significantly. We will start producing 45 mt of additional incremental coal annually, beginning this financial year," CIL Chairman S Narsing Rao told Business Standard.

"Overall, 16 of our expansion projects that were held up, owing to environmental clearances, will be cleared now," he added. The 16 projects produce 115 mt of coal. The company's applications for renewing the environmental clearances for these projects and raise production to 160 mt are pending.

"After the new norm, we will still seek environmental clearance for these projects. However, these would not go to the state, something that leads to delays," Rao said.

India produces 530 mt of coal a year. About 82 per cent of this is accounted for by CIL. The production is much lower than demand, which leads to imports. Coal imports are expected to rise from 90 mt to about 200 mt by 2017, leading to an estimated foreign exchange outgo of Rs 72,000 crore.

The B K Chaturvedi committee, set up last year, had recommended exempting mining projects that sought 25 per cent expansion from public hearings. The panel was mandated to propose steps to fast-track implementation of major infrastructure and mining projects. Sources said recently, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had taken up these recommendations.

Delayed clearances, coupled with capacity constraints, were cited as major factors behind the fall in CIL's production growth last year. Owing to the fall, the PMO had issued a diktat to the company to meet its fuel supply commitments to power companies. CIL production target for this financial year stands at 464 mt.


Indian captive coal block auction in jeopardy over inter-ministerial differences

Energy Business Review

7 January 2013

The Indian Coal Ministry's proposed competitive bidding for captive blocks looks to be in jeopardy as the ministry failed to secure an in-principle environment clearance for the identified blocks.

The ministry was hopeful of being able to resolve all inter-ministerial differences before the auction were to take place.

"The Environment Ministry has said that in-principle environment and forest clearances to mines to be auctioned cannot be accorded as it is legally not enforceable," a Coal Ministry official was quoted by the Economic Times.

Several issues besides environmental clearance have remained unresolved, leaving the auction in a limbo, reported the newspaper.

Coal Secretary S K Srivastava elaborated that some of the pending issues include disagreements over a benchmark floor price and offering of discounted prices to sectors like power.

"We are in touch with MoEF on whether there can be a thing like conceptually providing in-principle approval, which I feel may not be possible considering the processes which are to be involved.

"We are to still arrive at a final view but [A?]few of the ministries have said that blocks have to be given with clearances," said Srivastava.

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